Earlier this week, US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter met with other key members of the anti-Daesh coalition. Talks between the US, UK, Australia, Italy, Germany, and the Netherlands were partially aimed at convincing Arab states to play a more active role in the fight.
"The object of today is to satisfy ourselves that the balance of the campaign is right…and that we can now capitalize on the setbacks Daesh has suffered in Iraq and move on to tighten the noose around the head of the snake in Syria in Raqqa," British Defense Secretary Michael Fallon told reporters.
Defense Secretary Carter reiterated these comments, telling reporters that "I want to hear from my counterparts over the next couple of days – how can we get them in the game. I have long said that Arabs and Sunni Arabs need to get in the game."
But Carter also said that the US planned to "accelerate" its own involvement in the campaign, deploying additional troops to Iraq.
"We’re doing this by providing a plan, clear leadership and the power of a global coalition wielding a suite of capabilities [that include] airstrikes, special forces, cyber tools, intelligence, equipment, mobility and logistics, and training, advice, and assistance," Carter said.
While no exact number was given, Carter did say that US personnel is going "to increase greatly as the momentum of the effort increases." The defense secretary cited US success in retaking Ramadi from Daesh.
"So for example, as territory is retaken from IS, as moving up and ultimately including Mosul, there are going to need to be not just ground forces that can seize territory, but police forces that can keep security."
While the Pentagon views Ramadi as a success, sources on the ground describe the city as having been reduced to rubble.
"The US-led coalition has destroyed 80 percent of Ramadi city. The scenario for the destruction of the Kurdish city of Kobani in Northern Syria is being repeated in Ramadi," said Karim al-Nouri, spokesman for the Iraqi volunteer forces.
The Obama administration has repeatedly pledged to withdraw from Iraq, and to avoid placing any additional “boots on the ground” in the Middle East. Carter’s announcement is just the latest indication that the US will not fulfill those promises. Earlier this month, Carter told reporters that a new special operations force was operating in Iraq.
"The specialized expeditionary targeting force I announced in December is now in place and is preparing to work with the Iraqis to begin going after ISIL’s fighters and commanders," he said.